Springtime has cast its spell on me this year, and I am smitten. Three times last week I caught myself lingering outside between errands lifting my face to the sky to catch the sun’s warmth. I have the itch to clean out closets, buy new bars of soap and scrub every surface of my apartment all in the name of spring cleaning. Every seedling purchased and gifted for my backyard container vegetable garden is nearly planted, just three more plants to go — tomatoes, peppers and a cucumber plant designed for planting in containers (thanks, Jen!).
Despite the hours of extra sunlight I find myself disappointed each evening as the sun goes down. There are only so many hours in the day and my to do list seems to multiply by the hour. Time in the kitchen has been embarrassingly limited since we got back from vacation. I still feel like my mind is being held captive in Aruba and thus getting all of those springtime activities and tasks completed before the daylight disappears has been challenging. Ryan and I are nearing our breaking point for enjoying takeout, but tonight we will be treated to a home cooked meal by some of the two best hosts and cooks I know. In a fit of pie lust I volunteered to bring dessert, and finding wonderfully ripe, slightly imperfect apricots at Whole Foods made choosing this week’s pie a no brainer.
Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts cookbook was a birthday present this year and I when I flipped through it the first time I knew I would not be able to wait long before trying out this apricot pistachio tart. At a certain point each spring Sacramento residents are giving away apricots by the bagful (we experience a similar type of generosity with zucchini in the late summer) as almost everyone has their own apricot tree in their backyard or knows someone who does. This tart requires little more than some ripe apricots and chopped pistachios and requires none of the fussing you are used to with traditional pie crusts because you use puff pastry for the tart shell — exactly what someone like me needs right now. (Although you should not be afraid of making your own pie crust. We’ll dive into that subject sometime soon.) I hope your springtime plans are filled with all things wonderful — pie baking, basking in the sun and even a little cleaning. Happy spring.
apricot pistachio tart
adapted from Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts
yields 8 servings
1c plus 1T unsalted raw unsalted pistachios, shelled and toasted
1/2c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg yolk (for the egg wash)
1t vanilla extract
flour, for dusting
1 box store bought puff pastry, thawed (if it comes in two pieces, thaw both)
6 apricots (1-1/4lbs), pitted and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1T heavy cream, for egg wash
2T turbinado or raw sugar (optional)
1/4c apricot jam
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine 1 cup pistachios and the granulated sugar. Add the butter and pulse until a paste forms. Add the egg, vanilla extract and salt. Pulse to combine.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 17- by 9-inch rectangle. If your puff pastry comes in two sheets, overlap two pieces to form a rectangle; brush the overlapping area with water, then roll out with a rolling pin. Transfer the puff pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the pistachio mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border.
Position the short end of the rectangle nearest you. Arrange apricots in 4 vertical rows atop the pistachio mixture, alternating the direction in which the apricots face. Fold up the edges of the dough with your fingers to make a scalloped edge. Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes until the dough is firm again.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Brush the egg wash over the edges of the tart shell. Chop the remaining tablespoon of the pistachios. Sprinkle the pistachios and the turbinado sugar over the apricots. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust begins to brown. Col on a wire rack.
While the tart is cooling, combine the jam with the water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the mixture loosens and becomes spreadable, about 2 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl. Brush the glaze over the apricots. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.